“Urbanisation works” begin at Lagoa’s wetland area
A group of NGOs has released a statement warning of the “imminent destruction” of the Alagoas Brancas wetland area in Lagoa.
The NGOs say that Lagoa Council has authorised the developer to begin “urbanisation works” at the site, adding that “earthmoving” and the “destruction of natural vegetation” started last week.
They condemn the works as “illegal” and warn that the destruction of the wetland area will put the town’s safety during floods at risk and will bring “severe consequences” to Lagoa.
Almargem, A Rocha Portugal, GEOTA, FAPAS, LPN, SPEA and ZERO – the NGOs that released the statement together – vowed to continue their fight against the development plans and promised they will not “stand by as this serious and unnecessary environmental aggression takes place”.
A protest march has already been organised for Saturday (October 22) alongside the local citizens’ movement ‘Salvar as Alagoas Brancas’, starting at 5pm in front of Carlos do Carmo municipal auditorium.
“The destruction has begun, affecting the habitat of over 300 species of native plants and animals, some of which are protected by law or are at risk of extinction,” the NGOs lament.
The associations also stress that the project ends “the possibility of creating a unique location in the town to be enjoyed by the population, to protect nature and to reduce the impact of floods” – all in the name of “building another commercial area which, if needed, could be built in another location”.
Local citizens and NGOs have been fighting the development plans for five years, calling for the need to review the project which they consider “outdated” in economic terms and “out of step from the current social reality”.
The statement adds that the project is only moving forward due to the “stubbornness” of the local council, while other local councils in the Algarve encourage citizens to take part in the management of their territory.
The NGOs continue on the attack, accusing the council of “knowing about the value that the area has, as well as the will of many citizens to protect Alagoas Brancas and promote birdwatching (in the area) during the winter”.
They also warn that a petition with over 6,650 signatures and a judicial proceeding is still ongoing at Loulé’s administrative and fiscal court, which “can still reverse the council’s decision”.
“Why didn’t the council carry out an environmental impact study when the competent authorities, such as the ICNF (nature and conservation institute), recommended it? It is a serious situation which calls for the filing of a complaint with the European Commission due to the flagrant violation of the Birds, Habitats and Environmental Impact community directives,” the statement says.
“This prepotency of the council exercised against the wishes of citizens, who simply want to ensure the quality of life of future generations, is incomprehensible and unacceptable nowadays,” the NGOs add.
The NGOs believe that the “environmental damage” caused so far can still be reversed and vow to continue fighting to “stop the destruction” taking place at Alagoas Brancas.